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Top 50 Hong Kong Films of the Decade - Numbers 40-31

Continuing our coverage of the reader-decided Top 50 Hong Kong Films of the Decade, here’s numbers 40-31. Click here to see numbers 50-41. Yesterday, we dealt with the revelation that THE EYE and LOVE UNDERCOVER pretty much got nixed from the Top 50.

Even scarier, MY WIFE IS 18 ranks higher than HOOKED ON YOU and ISABELLA. By the way, it has yet to appear on this Top 50 list. Will MY WIFE IS 18 make it past #30? Scroll down and you’ll know.

Moving on:

40. MY LEFT EYE SEES GHOSTS (2002), directed by Johnnie To and Wai Ka-Fai - 48 points - LoveHKFilm Review

My Left Eye Sees Ghosts

The poster is wacky, and the movie sometimes wackier, but MY LEFT EYE SEES GHOSTS has surprise within its silly commercial exterior. Sammi Cheng delivers one of her most broad and best performances as an insufferable widow who gains Sixth Sense-like abilities, while Lau Ching-Wan offers perfect support as the childhood friend who returns to guide her. Formula dictates that Cheng’s character undergo a significant change, but - in a smart Wai Ka-Fai-esque subversion - she really doesn’t. Instead, it’s the audience who learns to change their tune.

39. PROTÉGÉ (2007), directed by Derek Yee - 48 points - LoveHKFilm Review

Protege

PROTÉGÉ may possess an obvious and even labored anti-drug message, but it’s a powerful, compelling work with some very good performances. Director Derek Yee makes exposition into entertainment, with undercover cop Daniel Wu’s initiation into the drug trade proving both educational and enthralling. Yee knows when to amp the violence too, which he does during the film’s most famous moment, when cop Liu Kai-Chi pitches in a hand to help his fellow cops raid druglord Andy Lau’s “kitchen”. No pun intended.

38. JUST ONE LOOK (2002), directed by Riley Yip - 50 points, 1 first place vote - LoveHKFilm Review

Just One Look

What’s great about JUST ONE LOOK? Director Riley Yip’s dramedy is a sweet little Valentine to first loves, fathers, coming of age, and that most priceless of all things: cinema. It also has Gillian Chung, still young and innocent; Wong Yau-Nam, still full of promise; and Anthony Wong being Anthony Wong. JUST ONE LOOK also gets bonus points for its location - charming, unmistakable Cheung Chau - plus its final cameo, which would only be spoiled by someone who hates movies. Or maybe a film critic.

37. LOVE ON A DIET (2001), directed by Johnnie To and Wai Ka-Fai - 51 points - LoveHKFilm Review

Love on a Diet

Johnnie To plus Andy Lau and Sammi Cheng in fat suits probably spelled the death of Hong Kong Cinema for some, but this super-popular comedy had local audiences wrapped around its plus-sized finger. LOVE ON A DIET is many things: a wacky comedy, a pre-packaged star vehicle, a winsome little romance, and a clever genre deconstruction. Above all, this is an entertaining, funny blockbuster with more star power than any film requires. The award-winning Sammi Cheng theme song helps too.

36. CRAZY ‘N THE CITY (2005), directed by James Yuen Sai-Sang - 53 points - LoveHKFilm Review

Crazy ‘N The City

2005’s first Hong Kong film turned out to be very nearly its best thanks to James Yuen’s CRAZY ‘N THE CITY. A “cop soap opera”, the film takes a routine premise and spins surprising gold, going for emotional highs and lows and sudden, gear-shifting changes from farce to life-and-death drama. Producer Derek Yee’s touch is evident too, with the film’s loving look at Wanchai proving accurate and affecting. Francis Ng steals scenes as the righteous village idiot, but it’s Eason Chan who anchors the film with grouchy and lovable grace.

35. MY WIFE IS 18 (2002), directed by James Yuen Sai-Sang - 58 points, 2 first place votes - LoveHKFilm Review

My Wife is 18

MY WIFE IS 18 ranked higher than JUST ONE LOOK on this list? What the–? Incredulity aside, this high concept comedy has its legacy. It produced an inferior Korean remake, plus started the Ekin Cheng-Charlene Choi pairing that would continue through the decade. Also, there’s something about this movie - an odd, amusing, even irresistible vibe - that gives it strangely lasting appeal. Is it Charlene Choi’s toothy smiles or her cheongsam-attired IN THE MOOD FOR LOVE impression? Or Ekin Cheng’s self-effacing turn as an arrested development dope? As reader Peach wrote in, “It’s a guilty pleasure, I’m not proud.” We’re not proud, either. But here it is.

34. NEW POLICE STORY (2004), directed by Benny Chan - 61 points - LoveHKFilm Review

New Police Story

What would a Top 50 Hong Kong film list be without Jackie Chan? Chan’s best action vehicle of the decade is a return to his POLICE STORY roots, but it also slyly passes the torch to an EEG-appointed group of youngsters, most especially Nicholas Tse, who shows terrific comic charm as Chan’s sidekick. Tse would go on to show his own action chops in 2007’s INVISIBLE TARGET, also directed by NEW POLICE STORY’s Benny Chan. Daniel Wu won a Golden Horse Award for his turn as the villain, so people in Taiwan liked it too.

33. JULIET IN LOVE (2001), directed by Wilson Yip - 62 points, 2 first place votes - LoveHKFilm Review

Juliet in Love

Reader Se-Jin Park wrote in to say, “I actually don’t remember much about JULIET IN LOVE except that it really touched my heart.” Filling in the blanks, this uncompromising drama may represent the last truly personal work by Wilson Yip before his budgets ballooned and Donnie Yen became his best friend. A genre film about normal, downtrodden people, JULIET IN LOVE is one of the best adult romances to appear out of Hong Kong this decade. Francis Ng and Sandra Ng star, which should be enough said.

32. JULY RHAPSODY (2001), directed by Ann Hui - 63 points, 1 first place vote - LoveHKFilm Review

July Rhapsody

Ann Hui is one of Hong Kong’s best local filmmakers, and her 2001 one-two punch of VISIBLE SECRET and JULY RHAPSODY showed that in spades. This look at a man reaching middle age is uncommonly strong, with an opaque, involving and accomplished story by Ivy Ho that’s realized to low-key perfection by Hui. The acting is beyond reproach - Jacky Cheung and the late Anita Mui give their characters’ marriage years of lived-in frustration, and then-newcomer Karena Lam rightly deserved each and every one of her awards. Ten years on, JULY RHAPSODY only looks better and better.

31. SPARROW (2008), directed by Johnnie To - 64 points - LoveHKFilm Review

Sparrow

On craft alone, SPARROW could make any Top 50 list. This stylish, cinematic, and undeniably seductive caper comedy is Johnnie To’s love letter to cinema, Hong Kong and THE UMBRELLAS OF CHERBOURG, and it features Milkyway regular Simon Yam at his most dapper and gentlemanly. The romantic car ride between Yam and Kelly Lin lovingly recalls Cary Grant and Grace Kelly, and Xavier Jamaux and Fred Avril’s score is the perfect, playful accompaniment. Best moment: the single take crane shot early on following Yam and his pickpocket crew lifting the locals.

Score three films for Johnnie To! Check back tomorrow to see how many more he adds to his running total.

25 Responses to “Top 50 Hong Kong Films of the Decade - Numbers 40-31”

  1. bagel Says:

    excitment! :) Although Sparrow should be on the top 10, but i bet weŕe gonna se a bunch of other To films up there so… ;)

  2. Samson Says:

    I am slightly surprised by how many films starring Eason Chan are in the list (four so far). But come to think of it, he is actually not a bad actor. And I’m glad one of my personal favourites Crazy N’ The City made it into the top 50.

  3. sen Says:

    My guess is Just One Look is the top movie…

  4. sen Says:

    I guess it is wrong

  5. QQ Says:

    I took a deep breath and didn’t yank out any hair… but I think that is only because I didn’t know July Rhapsody was last decade film, I never saw Juliet in Love, and that Sparrow got #31. Just One Look ranked above Perhaps Love?

  6. valerie soe Says:

    So the Francis Ng films have started to surface–Juliet In Love is not only a grownup romance but an excellent triad movie, too. You should do some cross-tabs to see which actor/actress appears in the most films on your list. Will it be Francis, Andy Lau or Charlene Cboi? The answer will say a lot about the state of HK movies this decade.

    Now that Love On A Diet has made the list I’m taking side-bets that every Johnnie To flick from this century will be in the Top 50. Except possibly Linger, Wu Yen, and Yesterday Once More, and the Tactical Unit series doesn’t count (although I’d vote for No Way Out). Anyone want to throw down some cash?

  7. Webmaster Kozo Says:

    One purpose of this list is reminding people of movies from the Aughts that didn’t star Donnie Yen, so please do check out JULIET IN LOVE. It’s on the list for a reason.

    Hi Valerie, I can do some stats at the very end, but a running total would be kind of odd since I do know who shows up when. For example, if I suddenly started counting Soi Cheang movies it’d be a dead giveaway that there’s more to come from him. I’d be glad if someone who isn’t privy to the answers gives it a try though.

    You’re right that Johnnie To is not done with this list.

  8. Leemoy Says:

    More films to add to my list “movies that i must watch”.

    Bit disappointed that Sparrow didn’t get top20. =/ Hope more people will watch this wonderful film.

    Kozo, the top50 idea is just perfect. I am a great fan of HK cinema, however even examining your website minutely it is impossibile to find many less popular but interesting films.

  9. Webmaster Kozo Says:

    Hi Leemoy, you’re correct about LoveHKFilm lacking that usability, but I think it’s probably true for any website or database. Each film gets reviewed on its own, but trying to place them among the others can only be done via lists or features.

    I’m actually really happy with this vote - some of it is predictable, but there are genuine surprises along the way, too. That fact that 150+ people participated is what really makes it work. If readers are willing, I’d be glad to do this more often.

  10. Mike Mai Says:

    ah none of my selections showed up yet, hope they rank high! :P

  11. Se-Jin Park Says:

    Damn!!! If I knew I would be quoted, I sure wouldn’t write something so absurdly corny like ‘it really touched my heart.’
    Nontheless, I am glad that my no. 1 pick did reasonably well at no. 33 spot.

    By the way, is there any chance that you guys conduct another polls, like the best actor, actress and director of the decade… or something like that??? You know end of decade comes only every 10 years..
    In my vote for the top 50 best movies, I wrote down that Cecilia Cheung should be the actress of the decade.. I would love to know other Hong Kong film fans think.

    Well, You guys are great, and I hope to see you guys at least to the end of next decade.
    Happy new year!!

  12. AlHaru Says:

    I wouldn’t worry about SPARROW. To will pretty much dominate most of the Top20, it almost seems unfair to other dedicated directors who are somewhere on the list. His hand is full of top cards, SPARROW is just a diamond.

    JULIET IN LOVE at 33 is about right. Yip was most true to himself and to cinema than any of his later action flicks. I dreamed of his name after watching this movie in 2002, but then I was haunted by it after learning he also directed that movie called DRAGON TIGER GATE…..

    That said, our tribute to Anita Mui, one of the greatest actresses in Hong Kong cinema.

  13. Foxlore Says:

    Glad to see Crazy ‘N The City make it in. This was definitely one of the more underrated films (locally) to come out in the last decade.

  14. Isabel Says:

    I’m so glad Crazy N’ The City made the list. IMO, it is one of the best, and most underrated HK films of the decade! and yeah, I love Eason Chan! may be more so for his music, but really, he isn’t half bad at acting.

  15. Webmaster Kozo Says:

    Hi Se-Jin, sorry I should have warned you. A few voters wrote a few things about their faves, and it’s always better to hear from the people who pick ‘em instead of the guy who’s just doing the counting. It’s great that your pick showed - and it should. JULIET IN LOVE is a great movie.

    For the next vote, I’m leading towards “Best performances in a Hong Kong movie during the Aughts”, so Cecilia Cheung could easily compete for her performance in LOST IN TIME. But that won’t happen until January at the earliest.

  16. valerie soe Says:

    Hey Se-Jin Park, don’t be embarrassed about your quote–Juliet In Love not only touched my heart, it broke it into little pieces. I’m a heartless biotch but that movie is one of the only two films that have ever made me cry. And I agree that Cecilia Cheung is the actress of the decade–the more reason to despise Edison Chen for derailing her career and denying us the pleasure of seeing her on the screen.

    Kozo, it would be great after the countdown to get some stats from you. I’m not statistician but you could do some serious data-mining if you get someone who’s good at it. Hope you can make it work!

  17. Juan Says:

    Leemoy, I don’t think you have to worry about more people seeing Sparrow. To the average hardcore movie fan, Hong Kong cinema doesn’t really exist outside of Johnnie To anyway. It’s in the lesser-seen gems finally getting more recognition where the real value of this list comes, imo.

  18. ed Says:

    valerie, I think cecilia getting into the baby making business with one nic tse, derailed her career more than her hobbies with edison did…

    also aside from LINGER, WU YEN, and YESTERDAY, I don’t think johnnie to’s directed TURN LEFT TURN RIGHT, HELP!!!, RUNNING OUT OF TIME 2, TRIANGLE and LOVE FOR ALL SEASONS (inferior to LOVE ON A DIET and MY LEFT EYE) will make it. put me down for $10. ;-) johnnie to is prob my favorite director, but he has definitely misfired on a couple, what was he thinking with RUNNING OUT OF TIME 2?!?

  19. valerie soe Says:

    Hey Ed, Damn, you’re right, Running Out Of Time 2 isn’t likely to make the list, nor are any of the others you mention. I did like Help!!! but it’s probably too old and too weird for most people to recommend. I guess I owe you ten bucks ; )

  20. Se-Jin Park Says:

    @ Kozo
    I am pretty happy about the movie ‘Juliet in Love’ ranked fairly high. I was worried that it might not make it to the top 50 even though, in my mind, it should be at least in top 15.
    About the quotation, I want to be clear that I am actually very pleased and honored to be quoted from this wonderful site.. I am just mad at myself for writing something so corny… lol
    About the next poll in January, I am eager to find out about the result already!! Keep up the great work!!

    @ valerie soe
    The thing is… I am a dude.. so I should be embarrassed of what I wrote!! lol

  21. Albert Zuggsmith Says:

    I just voted (too late, I know). I own over 100 HK movies. I can’t believe not one of them is in the top 50! Well, I know what I’ll be watching in the next decade. What’s the address for YES Asia?

  22. Sydneyguy Says:

    i would think
    Crazy in the city
    would rate more highly

    love on a diet deserves its spot and
    my left eye sees ghost is good

    but my wife is 18? are you sure?

  23. wip328 Says:

    Protege can not be on #39, should be at least top 20!

  24. David Harris Says:

    In “Crazy N’ The City” isn’t Francis Ng’s character mentally ill rather than a village idiot type??

  25. Webmaster Kozo Says:

    @David, Francis Ng’s character was kind of a village idiot in that he was well known locally for being crazy or mentally off. If I remember correctly, it was some trauma that made him that way.

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